Markell vetoes opt-out bill, signs law to reduce testing for all students

Wilmington, Del. — Gov. Jack Markell vetoed legislation today that would allow for any student to be opted-out of any state or district assessment. But he signed Senate Joint Resolution 2, which aims to eliminate unnecessary, ineffective, or redundant tests required by the state, districts, and individual schools.

In his veto statement the Governor expressed agreement with concerns raised by parents and educators about the need to reduce the amount of time students spend on testing. However, he said he could not support encouraging opt-out of the annual state assessment, which provides information for teachers and school leaders to determine areas in which students are excelling or need additional help.

Markell said it also represents a vital tool for evaluating the effectiveness and ensuring the best use of the more than $1 billion in state funds directed to the education system.

“HB 50 would undermine the only objective tool we have to understand whether our children are learning and our schools are improving. It has the potential to marginalize our highest need students, threaten tens of millions of dollars of federal funding, and undermine our state’s economic competitiveness – all without adequately addressing the issues that motivated many to support the legislation. That is why educators and school leaders have joined the civil rights community and business leaders in opposing the legislation, and why I am returning the bill unsigned,” wrote the Governor in a statement delivered to the House of Representatives.

“I have heard the concerns of some parents and teachers that our students are experiencing too much testing. I agree… And that is why I have signed Senate Joint Resolution 2, which will bring together teachers, parents, civil rights leaders, and legislators to help us review our required assessments and eliminate those that are unnecessary, ineffective, or redundant,” he wrote.

In addition to requiring completion of the inventory, the resolution will:

  • Require districts to report the results of the inventory, including assessments that will be eliminated;
  • Require the Department of Education (DOE) to do the same thing at the state level;
  • Require the DOE to publish the results of the inventories to the House and Senate Education     Committees, and to the public; and
  • Require the DOE to convene three members each of the House and Senate Education Committees, along with representatives of the state teachers union, the state’s superintendents, the civil rights community, and parents, to review the inventory results and make recommendations about assessments to eliminate, with final results reported publicly by June 2016.

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